Friday, February 3, 2012

The Black Arrow!

Rufino Moniz & Maria Natalia Moniz
The Black Arrow, it's name alone conjures up visions of pirates, mystery and adventure. Docked in the harbor of Funchal, the Arrow awaited it's anxious passengers ready for adventure and the promise of a better life. Word had reached the shores of Madeira that life was good in America. It was the land of opportunity, offering work, housing, education, hope and abundance. 
I can only imagine how grandmother felt? Walking the dock of anticipation with her one year old son John in arm, grand-father and four of his seven children from his first marriage.
Envisioning a very early start, a thick fog lending to the mystery that lie ahead. All dressed in their Sunday best each carrying some sort of satchel and maybe a small hand carved wooden toy for baby John. Grandmother had to have been nursing John as this was not the age of sterilization. My God, can you feel her butterflies and hear her heart pounding, leaving everything she knew behind. They were never to return.
Such sorrow had befallen this grand lady. She had lost her first husband and three small children to the dreaded influenza that swept across Europe. How does one soul endure such heartache and move on? She was only thirty one years of age the day she embarked this vehicle of opportunity, she would go on to bear six more children in America. 
What might their accommodations have been like? I can only hope that they had some sort of privacy? What kind of food did they consume and what were the rest room facilities like aboard? Can you picture the long lines not to mention sea sickness? My mother says that it took close to thirty days to cross the Atlantic to Ellis Island and I am not sure if they stopped in the Azores or not. It would make sense that they did to pick up more passengers. Their passports were issued in February of 1920 and stamped by the American Consulate, March 6th 1920, possibly their date of departure. I recently learned from cousin Hank that there were Italian immigrants on board as well, relayed by his dad, Henry aged twelve at the time of the crossing. Sign language a form of communication for sure. 
Mother says that they never really spoke of their hardships or their trip across, you just did what you had to do and move forward. How different my life would have been had they not taken this enormous leap of faith. Luckily the earth was proven not to be flat years earlier by Christopher Columbus, who married a woman from Madeira with the maiden name of Moniz. Hmm? Grandfather said his family were the first Monizs' to settle in Madeira from the mainland. No proof here just word of mouth! 
Someday I will return to investigate their linage at greater length. Records were kept in churches, the church where my grandmother was baptized burned to the ground in Funchal where she was born. Grandmother was born in 1889, her birthdate December 24, hence her name Natalia, a Christmas blessing. In her thirty first year at the time of the crossing, she passed at the age of 76 in 1965. She was the daughter of Manuel Roderiques Neto and Maria Isabel de Jesus. Grand-father was born in Santa Cruz, Madeira in the year of 1874 on March 29, he passed at the age of 82 in 1956, we visited his church and place of baptism. He was 44 years of age the day he embarked the ship and celebrated his 45th birthday aboard. He was the son of Rufino Moniz and Maria de Freitas. I have no idea of the family that they left behind and if their parents were still alive at the time of their departure? Grandmother had two brothers that lived in Fall River, Massachusetts, John and Jesse Neto. How many more siblings did they have? I understand we have cousins in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Hawaii. Questions I hope to answer thru out our journey!
Their mode of transportation from New York to New Bedford is unknown to me at this time. Maybe one of my relatives has more information. My guess would be the railway. According to the photo of the ship's manifest they arrived at Ellis Island with the grand sum of $22.00, hopefully a sizable amount for that time. It was Friday, April 2 1920. They were sponsored across by grandfather's brother who resided in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Mary, Mother of the Archangels, how did they endure? Twenty two dollars, five children, transportation, food and housing yet to be found. I will never take the small amount of twenty two dollars for granted again! 
The four older children were, Maria Viera, age 19, Maria Gloria, age 17, she would pass at sea and buried there. Henrique, age 12 years, Mario, age 10. There is no mention of Ralph the eldest son, who came a few years later. Hopefully the reason coming soon for his late departure. Caroline and Jordan stayed behind and would come many years later. 
Grandfather's first wife would die in childbirth bearing their seventh child, Jordan. Once again such heartache and to lose a child while crossing the ocean, my heart weeps for their sorrow. Was their decision ever questioned??? 
We can only wonder...

The Black Arrow Photo Courtsey: Peabody Essex Museum
Built by Bremer Vulkan Shipbuilders, Vegesack, Germany, 1904. 6,600 gross tons; 409 (bp) feet long; 52 feet wide. Steam quadruple expansion engine, single screw.  Service speed 13 knots. 900 passengers (100 first class, 800 third class). Steel hull, two decks.
Built for Hamburg-American Line, German flag, in 1904 and named Rhaetia. Mediterranean-New York service. Seized by U.S. Shipping Board, in 1917 and renamed Black Hawk. Transferred to United States Navy, American flag, in 1919 and renamed USS Black Arrow. Chartered by New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Co., in 1919. Mediterranean-New York service. Scrapped in

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Brief History of Madeira Island!

Please click on Blog Archive in right hand column to see older posts in sequence!
"When the Infante Dom Henrique, better known in English as Prince Henry the Navigator, gathered together the finest cartographers and navigators of Portugal at the beginning of the 15th century, his plan was to extend the knowledge of the coast of West Africa. Armed only with square-rigged ships, compass, hourglass and astrolabe, the initial sea captains were severely handicapped in their endeavours. But in the course of their ventures, the finest hour of Portuguese maritime history, luck brought greater riches than the purities of science and logic.
Two young sea captains, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, were blown off course on their journey around the African coast and after many days at sea found land on a small island that they named Porto Santo - the very first of the many discoveries made by Henry's school of navigation. On reporting to Henry they were promptly ordered to return and colonize the island. The year was 1419. Seductive as are the charms of the golden sands of Porto Santo it seems somewhat incredible today that it took a further year before the next discovery was made. The captains had reported a dark mass of clouds visible on the southern horizon. They were now encouraged to explore this foreboding mass. As theories to whether the world was flat had yet to be completely disproved, it took an enormous leap of faith to cross the traverse. As they approached, the huge Atlantic rollers breaking along the north coast and the boiling turbulence of the cross currents at the Ponta de São Lourenço cannot have eased the concern of the superstitious sailors. But on rounding the headland they discovered the bay of Machico, the threshold to the heavily forested island that they named Madeira. Prince Henry immediately organized the colonization of the island, with the first families coming from the Algarve region of Portugal."~google search~

 ~A Timeline of the History of Madeira, By Jorge Barbosa~


Colonization begins. The first settlers set fire to the dense forest near the areas where conditions are ideal for the cultivation of sugar cane. Sugar, the white gold, transforms the island into a rapidly important economic unit for the Portuguese crown. Mostly noble families are entrusted to these ventures.


Christopher Columbus visits the archipelago to buy sugar. He marries Filipa Moniz, daughter of the first governor of Porto Santo Bartolomeu Perestrelo. He finds flotsam of various plants of foreign origin on the beach of Porto Santo to inculcate the theory of other lands or islands even further west from the archipelago. This way is hatched his plans for the future discovery of the Americas.


The archipelago undertakes its first census. There are more than 5000 inhabitants on the islands.


The city walls, to protect Funchal from Pirate attack, are completed.


Despite the protection of the city walls 1000 (one thousand) French corsairs attack Funchal. They assassinate the governor and plunder the mansions and churches dotted around the successful community. This marks the worst act of aggression ever perpetrated on the island.


Phillip II of Spain assumes the throne in Portugal and Madeira falls under Spanish rule.


The total population of Madeira is now calculated at 28,345 inhabitants. Of these, at least 3000 are slaves.


Under the leadership of King John IV, Portugal revolts the Spanish rule and recover independence from the Spanish crown. Madeira is Portuguese again.


Catherine of Bragana, daughter of King John IV, marries Charles II, the king of England. As part of the pre-nuptial agreement English trade and merchants are given privileged access to the Madeiran economy. Over time they gain strong control of the emerging and lucrative Madeira wine industry. Many choose to reside permanently in Madeira.


Slavery is abolished in Portugal.


In one of the worst natural disasters on the island, 600 inhabitants drown during some flash floods in Funchal. Preparations are made for the building of high walls on the banks of the three rivers that run down to the harbour in central Funchal.

1807 - 1813

British troops land on the island. Their purpose is to act as a defense against the encroaching and marching forces of Napoleon as his armies conquer most of Europe. Indeed, Madeira is briefly under the dominion of British rule and the Union Jack is hoisted over that of Portugal's flag when Napoleon takes control of the country. Madeira never sees a French soldier close to its shores.


In one of the worst health problems the island has ever suffered, more than 7000 inhabitants fall victim to cholera. At the same time, a devastating mildew destroys the vines across Madeira and economic hardship is rife. New varietals of grapes are planted and the introduction of the banana as an alternative cash crop is promoted.


Madeira starts enjoying the first inklings of what would become its mainstay for the insular economy: tourism. The island's new fortunes are a result of the increased and intense traffic of ships between cold northern Europe and the warmer tropical climates of the south by a new bourgeoisie class of Europe.


The emblematic and token hotel, The Reid's, opens its doors to the public. It caters specifically to a very wealthy and distinct upper class of clientele.


German submarines firing from the harbour of Funchal bombard the city on two separate occasions. The damage incurred is minimal.


Inhabitants on the island revolt against the stringent economic measures put in place by the government of Oliveira Salazar. They go on general strike. The government in Lisbon sends troops to the island to quell the rebellion. After the suppression, many Madeirans start to seek new lives abroad and begin a long tradition of emigration to many different parts of the world. Initially, these would include the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), the USA and Brazil. Later it is Venezuela, South Africa and France that collect the many departed.


Santa Catarina Airport (or Funchal Airport) is inaugurated. The first commercial flights are introduced and the island adapts to a new type of tourist.


On the 25th of April a bloodless revolution takes place and the dictatorial government is overthrown. A democratic regime is installed and Portugal starts to relinquish its colonial territories.


The archipelago of Madeira is accorded self-rule and is given autonomous status by the Portuguese government. Madeira has its own regional government, presidency and legislature. The military and judiciary remain under Portuguese auspices.


The entry of Portugal into the European Economic Community heralds a new phase of development for Madeira. Madeira is considered one of the poorest regions of the EEC and the islands are given incredible financial support for the development of infrastructure and the economy.

Today Madeira Island relies on tourism. It is famous for it's fine wines and is a glorious place to visit.
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